A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Energy plan: What about price?

Written December 1st, 2012 by

This is not what the Oregon energy plan has in mind, but it’s a thought processor that uses no electricity at all. Super efficient!

Energy planning in the public sector is a great field to work in. You get to meet and discuss things and write reports and plans, drawing a paycheck every month, but you never actually have to produce any results. If you made a 10- or 20-year plan and it didn’t pan out when the 10 or 20 years are up, nobody is going to come after you and want his money back.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has just appointed a new director of the state Department of Energy. That department and  the new director are being tasked with carrying out the 10-year Energy Action Plan the governor announced last summer. That plan calls for Oregon to reduce its use of fossil fuels, develop Oregon-based renewable energy sources, reduce emissions of so-called greenhouse gases, improve energy efficiency, create jobs and strengthen the economy.

To that end there is — you guessed it! — a task force. The task force has a leadership group and several so-called “design teams” to work on things like efficiency and demand management. One team is charged with “identifying achievable energy mix scenarios relative to existing state law,” according to one account. So, lots of opportunities for consultants to be hired and studies to be written and eventually, maybe, law changes to be proposed.

Amazingly, nothing in the governor’s energy plan so far says anything about keeping the cost and the price of electricity and fuel down. People in Oregon would be very interested in what they have to pay to heat their houses, keep their work place going and operate their cars. Wouldn’t they? So they’d want the state to promote low-cost energy in all its forms. But according to the state plan, that is not what the state-paid energy planners actually do. (hh)

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